Apparently, “avocado hand” is actually a thing. There has been a dramatic increase in A&E admissions for avocado-related hand injuries. People cut themselves, sometimes quite badly, when they slice through the avocado and extract the stone. There is a little spike in cases every week just after Sunday brunch, especially in the posher London postcodes.

This demonstrates that seemingly innocuous foods can be quite dangerous. Last Easter we took on a rescue dog, a chocolate lab who was a delight in every respect, but was a shameless food thief (it’s hard to blame her — I think where she came from, food was scarce). We learnt very quickly that we couldn’t leave anything edible below a height of at least six feet. We had a particularly expensive lesson on Easter Sunday.

A friend had brought a beautiful and particularly large home-made simnel cake as a contribution to lunch. It was sitting innocently on the end of the dining room table and each time I walked past it, I thought “Mmmm, simnel cake, I must have a piece of that later”. Until the time I walked past and saw that it had vanished. The plate that held it was undamaged, but there was a telltale trickle of currants across the table and down onto the floor.

The culprit was obvious. I had only recently learnt that currants can be highly toxic to dogs, although not all are affected. But this wasn’t a scone, or even an Eccles cake, this was several pounds of densely packed dried fruit. So we rang the vet and arranged to race her in for treatment. We were just loading her into the car when I remembered our dachshund. Now, being vertically challenged in a fairly extreme way, she could definitely not have helped to get the cake off the table, but she could easily have helped to tidy it up when it was on the floor. So she came along too.

A very large vet’s bill and two colonic irrigations later, we established that the lab was not allergic to currants, and that the dachshund was innocent of any implication in the crime.

We once took two ponies to a stay-away show. One was a feisty Welsh chestnut mare, for whom a handful of pony nuts was like rocket fuel. The other was a Connemara who was laid back to the point of exasperation. I had packed all our gear in the first compartment of the lorry. With the Connie, we had progressed from non-heating energy food to competition mix, then onto racing mix, all with very little impact on his way of going, but we lived in hope. I had packed a substantial quantity of the racing mix into an old feed tub with a secure lid, and tucked it well down among all the other equipment, apparently in an entirely unreachable spot. The chestnut mare was loaded first, then the Connie, and off we set.

We arrived and opened up the lorry. The first thing I noticed was the empty tub lying between the ponies’ feet. Now, it had to have been the mare who retrieved the tub because she was the closest, although we had no idea she was so bendy. But it was impossible to say who had eaten the contents. Both wore expressions of surprised innocence. If it was the Connie, at worst it might have lifted him a little bit further out of his usual torpor. But if it was the mare, we could expect a turbo charged performance, which was an alarming prospect.

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My daughter rode them both next day with some trepidation. Happily the mare seemed unaffected. The Connie, on the other hand, roused himself sufficiently from his semi-comatose state to put in a big shy and a buck at precisely the moment the judge was watching him in the go round, then reverted to normal kickalong mode. Understandably, he went straight down to the bottom of the line, and the mystery of the missing racing mix was solved.

JG

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